NHS staff levels still not healthy

Staffing levels in the NHS are on the mend, but there is still a long way to
go, according to two reports released last week.

The NHS Modernisation Board’s first annual report in to the progress of the
service under the NHS 10 Year Plan claimed there has been a net increase of
10,000 nurses working in England. This is part of the plan’s target to recruit
20,000 nurses by 2004.

But research by Nursing Times magazine found that one-fifth of nursing posts
in accident and emergency departments remain vacant.

Professor Donald Berwick, a member of the NHS Modernisation Board, said,
"No one reasonably expects instant change in an organisation as large,
complex, and public as the NHS, but it would be difficult to imagine a better

"A beginning like this is a fine down-payment on the constancy, trust
and optimism necessary for the long haul."

The board’s annual report does admit to low morale among employees despite
this year’s inflation busting pay increase of 3.7 per cent and calls for an
increase in work-life balance practices.

Marie Clary, HR manager at the Poole Hospital NHS trust, believes that
better HR resources in hospitals will help increase morale.

"More good HR people are needed to get into the wards and support the
sisters and senior nurses in the change programme," she said.

Mike Griffin, HR director and King’s College Hospital NHS Trust, said it is
important staff are involved in the changes. "With the massive amount of
change that the NHS is undertaking, we cannot afford to have any member of
staff not involved," he said.


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